All gatherings banned in Maharashtra from Monday: CM Thackeray amid rising COVID-19 cases

All gatherings banned in Maharashtra from Monday: CM Thackeray amid rising COVID-19 cases

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced that all political, religious and social gatherings will be prohibited in the state from Monday, amid rising COVID-19 cases.

In a televised address, Thackeray also said that political agitations will not be allowed for the next few days as they attract a crowd. "The pandemic is raising its head in the state, but whether it is another wave or not, it will be known in eight to fifteen days," he said.

The decision comes at a time when Maharashtra is again witnessing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. Six districts - Ratnagiri, Beed, Sindhudurg, Raigad, Satara and Amravati - have witnessed a noticeable rise in average daily deaths.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister added that the lockdown may not be the solution to COVID-19, but it is the only option to break the cycle of the virus.

A week-long lockdown has already been announced in Amravati, one of the worst-affected districts in Maharashtra, which will come into force from Monday. The district administration in Pune has also shut down schools and coaching centres till February 28 in view of rising coronavirus cases.

Uddhav Thackeray said that COVID-appropriate behaviour is a must and those violating the rules will be punished.

According to him, a face mask is the only 'shield' in the war against the coronavirus outbreak. "Wear mask, maintain discipline and observe social distancing to avoid a lockdown," he said.

He asked the people to follow work from home practice and reschedule their work hours so that there is no crowding in public places.

The Centre on Sunday directed states to increase the surveillance and conduct more COVID-19 RT-PCR tests. India, notably, has been witnessing rising COVID-19 cases over the past few days and the total active caseload increased to 1,45,634 on Sunday.

Maharashtra, which is also the worst COVID-19-hit state across India, reported 6,281 new confirmed cases on Saturday. There are now 48,439 active COVID-19 patients in the state. It has also witnessed a total of 19,92,530 recoveries.